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Building Vocabulary in the Preschool Classroom

Reflections from the Field

Preschool teacher Maureen Ostroff shares her strategies for enhancing children's vocabulary throughout the day. This video provides an example of using literature to build vocabulary while, also, engaging with books. Maureen describes reinforcing vocabulary development with environmental print such as story maps and a written definition of unfamiliar words.

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  • Video Transcript for Building Vocabulary in the Preschool Classroom

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    Maureen Ostroff, Preschool Teacher, Cooperative Educational Services School Readiness Program: The vocabulary—we introduce the vocabulary—we usually choose a book based on something the children are interested in. Our children are very into fox and wolf, and there’s so many stories about foxes and wolves in literature for children. We pick the story for the week, and we read it three times over the course of the week. The first, we pick out five or six particular vocabulary words that we figure the children don’t know or don’t have a clear understanding of. Like this week we read Gingerbread Boy, and one of the words was threshers, and how many children know what a thresher is?

    Maureen: What were those guys called?
    Child: Threshers!
    Maureen: Threshers! Do you remember what they did? They hit the wheat and got the grain out of the wheat, so we can grind it into flour.

    Maureen Ostroff: The next time I read it, I might give a longer explanation of it. Then I try to bring it up throughout the classroom. So they have a lot of understanding about it. So we try to make sure they’re throughout the classroom, not just in the story. And consciously use the word when we’re talking to them, on the teachers’ part. And the teachers—and since we have the story map on the wall, the teachers know the words; the definition’s up there; even if another person comes in the classroom to sub, she knows those are the words that we’re really reinforcing that week.

    © 2016 Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.
    Produced by the Center for Early Childhood at Eastern Connecticut State University. May be reprinted for educational purposes.

  • Producers: Terry Surprenant, Sean Leser
    Script: Terry Surprenant
    Editing: Sean Leser
    Videography: Sean Leser, Ken Measimer
  • Special thanks to Cooperative Educational Services School Readiness Program in Trumbull, Connecticut. The development of this video was funded by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.